2016 Research Awards

Honouring the achievements of the individuals and teams that work across the cancer research sector to lessen the impact of cancer for the people of NSW.

2016 winners

Professor John Simes

Professor John Simes is internationally recognised for leadership in clinical trials and translational research. He has enabled over 80,000 people to access new and emerging treatments.

He is a medical oncologist in neuro-oncology, a clinical epidemiologist and a biostatistician.

As the Director of the National Health and Medical Research Centre (NHMRC) Clinical Trials Centre he aims to improve health practice and health outcomes through clinical trials research.

Through his position as Director of Sydney Catalyst Translational Cancer Research Centre, he brings together cross-disciplinary teams to improve the outcomes of people affected by cancer.

It’s estimated he has to date enabled over 80,000 people to access new and emerging treatments.

Professor Minoti Apte OAM

Professor Minoti Apte is internationally renowned for her research into pancreatic pathophysiology and cancer.

As the Director of the Pancreatic Research Group at Ingham Institute for Applied Medical Research, Professor Apte and her team were the first to shed light on the key role of the stroma of pancreatic cancer on cancer progression.

They are now working towards developing novel treatments for pancreatic cancer using physiologically relevant pre-clinical models.

Professor Apte has received numerous awards and recognition for her research, including the Order of Australia Medal in 2014 and the 2015 NSW Woman of the Year award.

Associate Professor Daniel Catchpoole and Team, Sydney Children’s Hospital Network

Associate Professor Daniel Catchpoole and his team were awarded the inaugural Big Data, Big Impact grant at the 2015 Premier’s Awards for the project ‘Deep Learning of Complex Genomics Data for Effective Clinical Decisions’.

This year, Associate Professor Catchpoole will be awarded Stage 2 funding after successful progress in Stage 1.

The project allows clinicians to interpret biomedical data in meaningful ways and provide more certain, personalised treatment strategies for people with cancer.

His team includes: Associate Professor Paul Kennedy, Dr Quang Vinh Nguyen, Professor Simeon Simoff, Associate Professor Jinyan Li, Professor Toni Robertson, Dr Nikola Bowden, Dr Geoffrey McCowage, Dr Jeff Christiansen and Dr Tuck Wah Leong.

Dr Natalie Taylor and Team, Australian Institute of Health Innovation Behaviour Change Research Stream

Dr Natalie Taylor is chief investigator for a Translational Cancer Research Network (TCRN) project aimed at improving referral and genetic testing rates of patients at risk of Lynch Syndrome. 

Lynch Syndrome is an inherited bowel cancer condition, believed to affect tens of thousands of Australians, but it is extremely under-diagnosed.

Working with clinicians from two NSW hospitals, Dr Taylor and her team mapped the complex referral process for Lynch syndrome patients and identified behavioural and system-related gaps as target areas for change.

Find out more about Dr Taylor’s work in Breaking down barriers: Lynch syndrome in Australia.

Dr James Wilmott

Dr James Wilmott is a Research Associate at the Melanoma Institute Australia and the University of Sydney.

His publication ‘Immunohistochemistry is highly sensitive and specific for the detection of V600E BRAF mutation in melanoma’ is being used by pathology departments around the world to triage patients into lifesaving personalised medicines.

Some patients only have days to live without intervention and cannot wait for routine molecular testing results.

The assay described in the publication allows patients who could die waiting to be tested and treated with lifesaving drugs.

Central Coast Local Health District

In 2015, Central Coast Local Health District (LHD) had a three fold increase in the recruitment of cancer patients to interventional cancer clinical trials.

They increased the ratio of new trial participants to cancer incident cases, a reflection of improved clinical trials service provision for cancer patients located in Central Coast LHD.

Central Coast LHD have opened a new trial unit and have commenced recruitment to radiation oncology clinical trials, in addition to their existing haematology and medical oncology clinical trial units.

Dr Zaklina Kovacevic

Dr Zaklina Kovacevic is a Postdoctoral Researcher in Pathology at Sydney Medical School, University of Sydney.

Her research project ‘Targeting the Metastasis Suppressor NDRG1 for the Treatment of Pancreatic Cancer’ aims to better understand the underlying function of NDRG1 in pancreatic cancer.

It looks at how to potentially target this gene with novel therapeutics.

This new approach will lead to more promising treatment options and a better outcome for those suffering from pancreatic cancer.

Dr Andrew Chen

Dr Andrew Chen is a Dermatology Postgraduate Research Fellow at the University of Sydney.

A final year PhD student, he is investigating the effect of oral nicotinamide (vitamin B3) on non-melanoma skin cancers. 

The project is a large, multi-component piece of research. It has had a highly successful outcome, with almost immediate translation into clinical practice in Australia and internationally.